The T205 Gold Border set has numerous variations. The issue has a total of 208 different cards but 221 are generally considered to be required for a master set. On top of that, several other newer variations have been discovered.
In pursuing some upgrades for my T205 cards, I believe I found a minor print error/variation for John Titus that previously had not been discovered.
Who Is John Titus?
Titus is familiar to many pre-war collectors for his T206 card, which features him with a mustache. Ironically, he is the only player in the set with one and at least one collector was aggressively hoarding his cards, lessening the number available out there, and, in turn, driving up those cards’ prices. There’s no such fascination with the T205 Titus card as plenty are available.
As a ballplayer, Titus wasn’t a major star. But he did have a very successful career in the majors that lasted 11 years. He played primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies before finishing his career with the Boston Braves.
Titus was a solid hitter, batting .282 over his career and twice topping .300 (1905 and 1912). He was also a base stealer, finishing with 140 career stolen bases. Titus often finished in the top ten in the league in numerous categories, including batting average, doubles, on base percentage, runs, hits, and walks.
If you’re looking for a summary here, Titus was a dependable, productive major leaguer.
The Titus Discovery
I recently purchased a lot of T205 cards and had been comparing them against the ones already in my collection to see if any could be upgraded. The Titus card I had just acquired was not an upgrade for me but I was intrigued to find a blue print mark dot in the same place on the back of the card as shown below in my two examples.
At first glance, it just appeared to be an ink pen spot when I had only one copy of the card. But not only does it not look like a pen mark under closer inspection (no indentation, no bleed through the card, etc.), being in the same exact spot over the word ‘has’ in Titus’ bio just makes it highly unlikely.
The print mark is a darker blue and seems to match the color of ink used in the printing of the text.
The card back on each of the cards shown is a Piedmont Factory 25 and to date, I’ve not found the mark on any Piedmont Factory 42 cards or on those with any other advertising backs. This appears to be a Piedmont Factory 25 only thing, which makes sense. After all, imagine the odds of a printing plate error in the same exact place at another facility.
It is currently unknown how rare these cards may be. I’ve searched about three dozen examples of Piedmont Factory 25 cards and, have seen four with the print mark. More surely exist, but if nothing else, it seems like the copies with the mark are significantly rarer.
What kind of a ratio is there with cards with the mark and without it is unknown, obviously. Until we have more people looking for these, it will be difficult to tell just how rare they are by comparison.
Considering the Error/Variation
After noticing the print mark, my next stop was to find if examples existed without it. I was sure that they did since I hadn’t heard this mentioned before. And if everyone’s Titus cards contained the print mark, we would have heard about it by now.
I first found other Titus cards with different advertiser backs (i.e. Sweet Caporal, Polar Bear, etc.) and did not see any with the mark. Next, I looked for other Piedmont Factory 25 cards.
Because of that, there’s no doubt that this is a variation of sorts. Now, the extent of the variation can be debated. After all, we’re talking about a print mark here, not something more significant like a typo that was later corrected. This is more of a printing error. With the mark in the exact spot, it was likely the result of a mistake on the print plate. And since other Piedmont Factory 25 cards have been found without the mark, we can surmise that the problem with the plate either came at the end of production where only the last cards were printed with it or was something that occurred earlier and was later fixed.
Personally, I wouldn’t consider it a major variation like others that have different words, etc. This is more of a print error. But for those die-hard T205 collectors, it is definitely something to note.